ASRock, Biostar, Gigabyte, MSI H170 Motherboard Round-Up

Cheaper than Z170 but packed with features, the H170 motherboards try to be "high end on a budget." Today, we compare the ASRock H170M Pro4, Biostar Gaming H170T, Biostar Hi-Fi H170Z3, Gigabyte GA-H170-D3HP, and MSI H170I Pro AC in features and value.

Today marks the culmination of a month and a half of testing an initial batch of H170 motherboards. I started out thinking I would review just three boards, but I pushed it to five since three is not much of a sample of available boards and there were enough differences to make additional boards worthwhile. Finally, I had made some revisions to my test environment and procedures that allowed me to test boards more quickly.

The H170 is an upper-mainstream chipset, with features above those provided by the more basic H110 and B150 chipset boards. There will be additional connectivity options, and features like RAID support that are not present on lesser boards. They're still not for overclocking though, and are not the best choice if you'd like to run multiple graphics cards. If you'd like those features, you'll need to step up to the Z170 chipset.

In today's round-up we're taking a look at the Gaming H170T and the Hi-Fi H170Z3 from Biostar, ASRock's H170M Pro4, MSI's H170I PRO AC and the GA-H170-D3HP from Gigabyte.

Prices on these products vary considerably, and some in particular, like those from Biostar, are difficult to find; they are not available at Newegg, Amazon, SuperBiiz or NCIX (United States and Canada). I did not focus on a particular price range so much as on the chipset itself. Various boards do distinguish themselves with specific features, as we'll see.

H170 Motherboard Features Comparison



Let's go through them quickly so that we can get to the test results.

MORE: Best Motherboards
MORE: 
How To Choose A Motherboard
MORE: All Motherboard Content

MORE: Intel H170 Motherboard Price List

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
19 comments
    Your comment
  • SpAwNtoHell
    1. Valid for who upgrades their system from older platform and have already win 8.1 bought not relevant for who upgrades to win 10 or buying a new win10...

    2. H170 supposed to be cheaper is not entirely true... So myself i do not see the point paying for a cut chipset not less or almost no difference compared to z170... As this is inteded for budget build...
    0
  • Onus
    Thanks to Kasia for some quick fixes in the text.
    Otherwise, I take full blame (or credit) for the results! These are decent boards for most people.
    0
  • Snipergod87
    Do people buy BioStar products? I have never seen them used in PCPartPicker builds or really recommended on the forums.
    Also I don't see why a lack of SATA-Express is a problem on the ASRock board as there are no devices to utilize it.
    0
  • turkey3_scratch
    Anonymous said:
    Do people buy BioStar products? I have never seen them used in PCPartPicker builds or really recommended on the forums.
    Also I don't see why a lack of SATA-Express is a problem on the ASRock board as there are no devices to utilize it.


    Not really, they're [Biostar] considered to be not as reliable, just like EVGA boards. Though there is no factual data I can think of to back up this claim, it is general consensus.
    0
  • Onus
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Do people buy BioStar products? I have never seen them used in PCPartPicker builds or really recommended on the forums.
    Also I don't see why a lack of SATA-Express is a problem on the ASRock board as there are no devices to utilize it.


    Not really, they're [Biostar] considered to be not as reliable, just like EVGA boards. Though there is no factual data I can think of to back up this claim, it is general consensus.

    Exactly. I think they're still recovering from some bad S775 and AM2 boards they put out (I got some myself) some years ago. Their latest boards that I've seen have used the same quality caps and chokes as the Big Boys, and the boards are similarly well-made and don't feel cheap. A few minor BIOS glitches don't explain it; ASRock has had those too, as has MSI, and ASRock has also put out some really thin boards (with otherwise decent components), but they've had no serious call-outs for it. Biostar probably needs to determine whether or not their marketing and sales droids have been doing their jobs.
    1
  • jtd871
    I'm pleased that you reviewed a H170 mITX mobo. But I don't know why you list 1) "Limited expandability due to size" and 2) "M.2 is only PCIe" as cons for the MSI board.
    1) People buying a mini-ITX board don't want (or expect) much, if any, expandability. Limited expandability is arguably the whole point of mITX.
    2) The only compelling reason to go with an M.2 interface is to use a (PCIe x4) NVMe SSD. If the M.2 interface *wasn't* PCIe, only then it should be called out as a con.
    0
  • Onus
    Yes, point #1 is self-evident, but it is fair to point out, as it is a sufficient con that many people will not be able to go with a mini-ITX build. Although there are many USB3.0 peripherals available, a builder who already has a PCI video capture card, or a PCIe wireless NIC, may not wish to re-buy USB versions. I will disagree about point #2 on the basis of all the other boards' M.2 interfaces working with both card types. Someone building new would likely insist upon PCIe for the M.2 slot (as you say), but someone moving a drive, even if he plans a future upgrade, initially needs mSATA as well. To be fair, a slot that can only take a mSATA drive would also be listed as a con.
    As always, a given Pro or Con may not apply to you, so it might not affect your decision at all. If it does apply, it could be a dealbreaker to some.
    1
  • 80-watt Hamster
    Anonymous said:
    Do people buy BioStar products? I have never seen them used in PCPartPicker builds or really recommended on the forums.
    Also I don't see why a lack of SATA-Express is a problem on the ASRock board as there are no devices to utilize it.


    I had a Biostar 754 board back in the day. Never gave me a bit of trouble, though I didn't exactly push it particularly hard. It powered the last iteration of my Linux box (still have the drive with the /home partition, swear I'll resurrect it... someday), and was in service for probably 4-5 years. In fact, I think it's hanging out in a box destined for electronics recycling, and would probably still work if plugged back in. No time/motivation to find out, though. *sigh*

    Digressions and nostalgia notwithstanding, I'd have no problem using one again. Hard to justify, though, when Biostar's availability is so spotty, and equivalent products from the majors regularly undercut them when on sale.
    0
  • RedJaron
    One thing the memory bandwidth benchmarks can help point out is the difference in board auto RAM timings. A lot of boards advertise they can supported OC'd RAM, but not all of them have the best performance at those speeds. I've seen plenty of Z97 boards that can run RAM at 2800 and 2933 frequencies, but they actually have poorer bandwidth than at 2666. Typically this is because the auto values for the secondary and tertiary timings are set very loose to make it easier to run the RAM modules at higher speeds. The RAM is stable, but it's not performing as quick as it could.
    1
  • jlake3
    This isn't unique to these boards, but does anyone know why so many boards are still including PCI slots? While they're nice in certain cases for backwards compatibility, I feel like they shouldn't be quite as prolific as they still seem to be.

    In an ATX board it's not a huge problem unless you're running a particularly large number of expansion cards, but on an mATX board like the Biostar this roundup it gets a little constraining.
    1
  • RedJaron
    A couple reason legacy PCI slots are still included, even on mATX boards. First, these are H170 boards. They can't split CPU PCIe lanes so they can't take a second GPU ( CFX technically is supported by a x4 link through the chipset, but doing so is not advised ). So, one x16 slot is enough there.

    Second, that these are H170 boards means these are the lower end fare that most casual computers and office spaces will upgrade their hardware to. A lot of them still use older PCI cards, particularly wireless networking cards. So including, a legacy PCI slot means they can continue to use their older cards that are likely still performing well enough for them.

    Finally, what kind of slot would you prefer to see? Most people don't even use one PCIe x1 slot, so what would they need two there for? With quality networking, audio, and RAID controllers integrated into the mboard, there's not a lot of reason for add-on cards.

    While the question is valid, it may be more important to think of what feature should be there instead, or if adding that one slot is adding unnecessary cost to the board.
    0
  • Onus
    Actually, I'm inclined to think most office builds will use H110 or B150, especially if they will be networked. From a business perspective, the major item added by H170 is the RAID support, which most networked users won't need. H170 seems well suited for individual users, who want just about everything except for multiple graphics cards, and maybe they don't care to overclock (or, if it's for a kid, the parents say "no overclocking"). My own overclocks are sufficiently mild that I would probably be happy with a H170 board.
    0
  • Viren_
    H170 Motherboard truly a worth a price
    0
  • Matt087_48
    Where is the mighty ASUS in this lineup I"m a diehard asus fan i want to see some of their boards in these test .
    0
  • Onus
    Asus sent no boards for review. Not to worry, Editorial is cooking up a project to get some Asus boards on some reviewers' lab tables; don't know when, but the interest is definitely there.
    0
  • none77
    Thanks for the review.
    something is odd with skylake idle temp, in some cases like in this review the temp is about room temp, with my i5 6500 its the same (cpu package) , and the core temp is lower than the ambient temp with simple air cooler. its not logical, in bios the temp is few degrees higher.
    0
  • sayidxasan
    good
    0
  • 1723Neptuno
    There are differences in terms of in game graphic performances between h170 and z 170 (using single gpu, and i don't want OC, don't need z170 features)? I only need to put a gtx 980 ti on the best (or very very good) motherboard.
    0
  • Onus
    There should be no differences between Z170 and H170 for a single card. Both provide the same PCIe X16 slot for the card.
    0